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'Inspirational' Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust mental health nurse invited to 10 Downing Street to celebrate NHS



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A Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust (NSFT) nurse who has been hailed an 'inspiration' was invited to 10 Downing Street to celebrate her work.

Priscilla Nzounhenda is Matron at Lark Ward, a psychiatric intensive care unit in Ipswich.

She, along with 149 other NHS staff members, was specially invited to a garden party on July 4 to celebrate 74 years of the health service.

Priscilla Nzounhenda, NSFT Matron, outside 10 Downing Street. Credit: NSFT (58012254)
Priscilla Nzounhenda, NSFT Matron, outside 10 Downing Street. Credit: NSFT (58012254)

She said: "It was surreal. Standing at the door to No 10 where world leaders have stood. And then stepping through into the hallway. I thought I was dreaming.”

Priscilla chatted with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, then-Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England, and Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England.

“I wanted to showcase the great work going on at the Trust, so I spoke about areas such as our improvement work and zero suicide commitment,” she said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with NSFT Matron Priscilla Nzounhenda at 10 Downing Street. Credit Timothy Hammond (58012266)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with NSFT Matron Priscilla Nzounhenda at 10 Downing Street. Credit Timothy Hammond (58012266)

Priscilla was nominated by Lisa Nobes, Director of Nursing at the then Suffolk and North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, and the Trust’s Chief Nurse, Diane Hull.

She said of the invitation: “When the invitation arrived from No 10, I was really emotional. Then when I read why I had been invited, I cried. It was so touching.

"I feel so grateful and genuinely humbled to have been chosen.”

The nomination highlighted her achievements in significantly improving patient care through her #respondatfirstknock initiative and increasing activities and creating a culture of hope and belief.

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England, with NSFT Matron Priscilla Nzounhenda at 10 Downing Street. Credit Timothy Hammond (58012276)
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England, with NSFT Matron Priscilla Nzounhenda at 10 Downing Street. Credit Timothy Hammond (58012276)

She has also worked to drive efforts to reduce restrictive interventions in East Suffolk and lead Quality Improvement projects to tackle racism.

Diane Hull said: “Priscilla is compassionate, considered, kind and clinically credible. She has led with tenacity and positivity through out the pandemic and as we recover.

“Her excitement is infectious and her ability to enthuse and inspire, renowned. Priscilla is a very special person and a wonderful nurse. She is a role model for all those who work with her or are cared for by her.”